Forum: Waste disposal

In Canada, waste owners are responsible for the funding, organization, management and operation of disposal facilities, locations or sites, as well as all applicable steps of waste management, required for their radioactive waste.

Disposal is the final step in the management of radioactive waste, and refers to the placement of radioactive waste without intention of retrieval. Waste management and disposal activities are subject to national policy requirements as well as a regulatory framework for safety.

Decisions on disposal approaches may vary from country to country, depending on factors such as national policy, geography, waste types, volume, Indigenous and public engagement, environmental and socioeconomic factors.

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1. What do you feel are important policy considerations that should influence the choice of disposal approaches by waste owners and should be considered as part of Canada’s radioactive waste policy?

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2. What should be the roles and responsibilities of government, the regulator, and waste owners with regards to radioactive waste disposal facilities, including:

  • Funding,
  • Closure of a disposal facility and its institutional control, and
  • Indigenous and Public Engagement and involvement in site selection and post-closure?

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Matthew Mairinger's picture
Feb 8, 2021 - 11:47

I think after the "specific landfill disposal" bullet point additional criteria should be added to explain when this would be used and to stress this would not be utilized for LLW/ILW/HLW. REGDOC-2.11.1 does not mention "landfill disposal" so I believe it should have clarifying details in the policy.

"The waste owner is also responsible for implementing those plans and ensuring that funding is in place to maintaining institutional control, unless that responsibility was transferred to a third party"- should this be clarified to identify how long the control must be maintained? Should there be a mention of optimization or about revisiting LNT assumptions for when control would no longer be required?

In regards to the question about whether the State's disposal facilities would only accept radioactive waste of national origin or from other States as well I believe there should be a clause added which would state that if we accept fuel from an international origin (i.e. SMR fuel, "spent" PWR/MOx/BWR fuel for feedstock in CANDU reactors, etc.) we should accept disposal responsibility for the waste rather than shipping the waste internationally for disposal. Essentially if we are utilizing the international fuel for domestic energy and are therefore gaining usefulness from the import we should accept responsibility for disposal rather than transporting it back internationally for disposal.

Ultimately I agree that we should continue with the Adaptive Phase management and not be in a rush to permanently dispose of spent fuel as there are technologies/reactors which can still extract energy from them but I strongly encourage the creation of a spent fuel repository as the lack of this facility has been used as an argument that nuclear should no longer be pursued.

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David Wood's picture
Feb 16, 2021 - 04:32

The municipality of South Bruce along with Ignace are the two remaining communities that may be considered "a willing host" for disposal of all of Canada's spent nuclear fuel. The concept for disposal is by way of a deep geological repository (dgr).
The municipality of South Bruce, where I have been a resident for over 30 years and served on council for two terms in my opinion, is currently split on support for this proposal in spite of several million dollars already contributed from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) to the community's "well being". This division has occurred in spite of the process for community discussion or should I say the learning process that has gone on for 10 years now. For the most part the learning process has almost entirely focused on whether the science is good to support this project. However, most residents are of the rural agricultural sector not nuclear scientists and have no expertise to review properly. And those residents who can make their living at the Bruce Power nuclear station and would likely be favorable to the NWMO's proposal as it would enhance the marketability of nuclear power for having solved it's decades old waste dilemma.
In getting to an agreement with a rural community such as South Bruce to be a "willing host" on such a massive ($28 billion estimate) project, one that will truly impact the quality of a rural community of less than 6,000 two things have to occur in the next 2 years:
1. An honest learning process has to take place regarding the socio-economic impacts of this project has to occur led by someone other than the NWMO
2. Assurances have to be made that a formal referendum takes place in the upcoming 2022 municipal elections on a question reviewed and supported by the community as to whether South Bruce is a willing host.

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